The Brownwood Lady Lions found themselves in a must-win situation as the second half of District 5-4A volleyball action began Tuesday night at Warren Gym, following a 1-3 run through the first half that left head coach Julie Kennedy's squad in the league basement.
The Lady Lions responded with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-23 straight-set victory over the Big Spring Lady Steers, avenging a four-set loss in the district opener, to thrust themselves back into the postseason mix.
“This was a very important win for us,” Kennedy said. “We had a meeting and talked about the rest of the season and how it could go one of two ways. The positive is we can finish out district with four wins, or we could keep doing what we've been doing and not get much out of the season. We had that talk and the girls have been working hard. We changed our rotation and found something that works for us and we're comfortable with it.”
As for the four-set loss at Big Spring the first time around — the beginning of a four-game stretch of 5-4A matches on the road — Kennedy said, “We were very timid, we didn't play good defense and we didn't go after balls. They had their setter dump a lot last time and they didn't do that tonight, but we were ready for that. We played better defense overall this time. That's what we've been working on is playing better defense.”
Another critical area of improvement was at the net, where Brownwood recorded a dozen blocks.
“I thought our blocking was awesome,” Kennedy said. “Both single blocks and double blocks were great.”
Torrey Miller finished with four blocks, Mikaela Smith added three, Ashlynn Patteson collected two and Cheyenne Stroope, Tyra Cotton and Davalynn Monroe contributed one apiece.
Sticking with defense, Caitlyn Moody tallied a team-high 10 digs followed by Patteson with nine, Miller and Davalynn Monroe with eight, Annie Gillispie with seven, Smith with three and Stroope, Cotton and Hadley Monroe with two apiece.
Offensively, Miller compiled 16 kills followed by 13 from Smith, two from Patteson and one from Stroope.
Hadley Monroe and Davalynn Monroe both dished out 10 assists while Moody and Smith were credited with one apiece.
Stroope served a team-best four aces followed by Miller and Davalynn Monroe with two apiece and Patteson and Smith with one each.
Tied at 4 in the opening set, a kill from Patteson triggered a 6-1 scoring run for the Lady Lions, who opened a 10-5 advantage and never looked back. Two kills from Smith with an ace from Patteson sandwiched between stretched Brownwood's lead to 15-8. Big Spring trimmed the deficit to 19-17, but another 6-1 spurt from the Lady Lions finished off the set. A kill by Miller, an ace from Davalynn Monroe, a block from Smith and a Big Spring (2-3 in district) service error accounted for Brownwood's closing four-point surge.
In the second set, the Lady Lions opened an 18-11 advantage before Big Spring closed the gap to 19-18. Following a Brownwood timeout, one kill from Miller and two more from Smith quickly extended the lead to 22-18, and Smith later added the final point on a kill.
In the finale, the Lady Lions overcame a 15-10 deficit to complete the sweep. Down five points, a Big Spring service error, an ace by Stroope and a block and kill from Miller allowed Brownwood to pull even at 15. The Lady Steers regained a 19-16 edge but again the Lady Lions rallied as a kill from Miller, a block from Smith, an ace from Miller and a block by Cotton pushed Brownwood back in front, 20-19. Tied at 22, the Lady Lions reclaimed a one-point edge thanks to another Big Spring service error, while Smith added two more kills to wrap up the victory.
The Lady Lions (12-18, 2-3) host Sweetwater at 6 p.m. Friday in a rematch of the only match Brownwood won during the first half of league play.